Tapio Markkanen Paratiisista katsoen. Tähtitaivaan karttojen historiaa [Viewed from Paradise. A history of maps of the night sky]

4 June 2010 | Mini reviews

Paratiisista katsoen. Tähtitaivaan karttojen historiaa
[Viewed from Paradise. A history of maps of the night sky]
Helsinki: Ursa (Astronomical Association), 2009. 143 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-5329-80-3
€ 32, paperback

This book presents a scientific and cultural history of mapping the night sky, from ancient times up to the present day. In addition to the technical processes involved in producing celestial maps, it touches on a broad range of cultural connections, since the practice of mapping the heavens has always been inextricably linked with economic, cultural and political concerns throughout human history. How has mankind around the world experienced and comprehended the night sky? The title of this book refers to the ancient practice of portraying the skies the wrong way round – as a mirror image, as if viewed from heaven. ‘That’s how the gods would have seen it,’ the author, Professor Tapio Markkanen, an astronomer at the University of Helsinki, reminds us. This book was published in conjunction with an exhibition organised by the National Library of Finland as part of the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. Many of the maps reproduced in this book are from the Nordenskiöld Collection, housed in the National Library, and included in the UNESCO Memory of the World programme.

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